Ralston South Yarra brings out Elenberg Fraser's subtle side

Think of Melbourne's surge in residential towers over the preceding 18 months and one firm immediately springs to mind. Elenberg Fraser have nabbed the lion's share of large-scale apartment designs in and around the CBD of late and have become synonymous with tall towers.

In a refreshing move the integrated design and architecture practice has delivered a bespoke project on behalf of developer Sterling Global located on Toorak Road, South Yarra which highlights the subtle design nuances employed by the firm in respecting the heritage and parkland settings which define the site. Far from the 1000-apartment projects Elenberg Fraser are currently overseeing, Ralston South Yarra speaks a different architectural language to many of their other ongoing projects.

Urban Melbourne recently spoke with Elenberg Fraser's Project Leader and Senior Architectural Technician Nick Bruford as to why Ralston holds its own.

Ralston's subdued exterior

The obvious distinction between Elenberg Fraser's CBD projects and Ralston is location and scale. While the CBD towers are each set to house many hundreds of people upon completion, Ralston is a six level development fronting Toorak Road in the heart of an established low-rise precinct.

With a new developer and architect superseding previously endorsed plans for the site, both parties set out to deliver a project sympathetic to its surrounds while also representative of prospective buyers wishes. Typical undulating glazed facades have been replaced by stone and plaster wash finish panels in order to provide a level of rhythm and context. The facade is most prominent at street level, providing a level of privacy to ground level dwellings, and slowly opens up over upper levels allowing for panoramic CBD views.

In addition to providing scale the vertical panels also compliment the retained historic streetscape fronting Toorak Road. Melding original structures with new forms is a method that has been shied away from in recent Elenberg Fraser CBD designs; perhaps more a reflection of developers wishes than anything else. Regardless the revised plans for Ralston were received warmly by City of Stonnington.

A penthouse resplendent with fireplace and expansive views

Nick Bruford explains the project has been a chance to explore different design qualities and opportunities, giving rise to an increased amount of detail throughout the development. Rather than statement exteriors and ample communal facilities typical of much taller projects in the CBD which are designed to attract volume buyers, Ralston delivers a understated yet refined development aimed toward the owner-occupier in what has traditionally been a sought after location.

Internally too Ralston features a variety of living options ranging from tri-level townhouses fronting Caroline Park through to two and three bedroom apartments ranging in size from 110sqm to 160sqm with large balconies in tow. Two penthouses crown the development and occupy the top two levels.

According to Nick hundreds of interior finish combinations were considered before the design team settled upon the chosen configurations which are evidenced within the complete display suite onsite. Chevroned wood floors and bathroom wall tiles are a standout and are ably supported by brass fittings, Combi ovens, composite marble splash backs and stone bench-tops in the kitchen. Sculptural lighting by Melbourne-based industrial designer Christopher Boots also point toward the heightened level of consideration given toward internal finishes.

Display suite finishes

This 'departure from the norm' for Elenberg Fraser has produced results with 65% of apartments within the development sold after three weeks. Construction is set to commence on the Ralston in the new year and Urban Melbourne hopes to tour the completed complex in due course.

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